Three Cuts: Wood stymies ‘Stros; Braves net 2nd straight win

Over the last two seasons in the majors, spanning 108 innings, Braves lefty Alex Wood (three hits, zero runs allowed vs. Houston) has a starter-only ERA of 3.08.

For starters, the Astros (33-46) currently hold bottom-five rankings with cumulative runs, hits, doubles and batting average.

Secondly, in two seasons with Atlanta, Wood has starter-only tallies of a 3.08 ERA (through Wednesday), 1.28 WHIP and sparkling K-BB rate of 102/32.

And third, the pitching-rich Braves didn’t have to re-convert Wood back into a starter before the All-Star break. The club could have easily kept Wood (6-6) in a valuable relief role through mid-July, knowing he would easily stay under the prescribed threshold of 160 innings for the season.

But sometimes you’ve got to roll the dice on a long-term standout who’s ready for short-term glory; and Wood (three hits, zero runs allowed, four strikeouts vs. Houston) should be a healthy lock to stay in Atlanta’s five-man set of Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Wood, Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana through September.

And let’s remember: This grand plan of stretching out Wood’s innings in the minors (early June) was in place long before Gavin Floyd incurred an elbow fracture against the Nationals last week.

OK, so Tommy La Stella gets the credit for Atlanta’s fourth (and final) run, getting B.J. Upton home on a simple groundout (eighth inning).

But if Justin Upton doesn’t register a sacrifice-fly RBI in the second inning (scoring Evan Gattis) and launch a prodigous homer to right-center in the 7th (scoring Jason Heyward) … maybe Astros starter Collin McHugh (nine strikeouts) goes the distance against the Braves.

Preliminary reports indicate Freeman (1 for 3 on Wednesday) didn’t require X-rays after leaving the game to injury.

Even so, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, it marked the first time all year Freeman hadn’t occupied first base for a full inning … which seems rather absurd (in a good way).

Hope Freeman enjoyed that "rest," since the Braves only have one off day (July 3) until the All-Star break.

In most divisions, a 10-12 record would put contending teams in a substantial hole in the standings.

But with Wednesday’s victory, the Braves (40-37) now trail the first-place Nationals (41-36) by one game, an enviable spot for a club that has the Astros, Phillies, Mets (twice), Diamondbacks and Cubs — all losing teams — on the docket leading into the All-Star break.

The OBP ranking is particuarly galling, since Atlanta nets a paltry .296 for the month. In fantasy baseball, you wouldn’t even consider drafting or acquiring a player with an OBP under .300 … and the Braves have an entire cluster of sub-.300 guys in the lineup.

There is a notable upside here: For June, the Braves and Nationals — both World Series contenders — possessed an identical OBP heading into Wednesday; and the Marlins and Phillies ranked below both clubs in that crucial category.

Yep, life in the NL East is good.